Tag Archives: Naheed Nenshi

Lois Szabo Commons

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi announced Monday the creation of a new park in the Beltline: the Lois Szabo Commons. Lois is well known to many in the LGBTQ2 community as a tireless volunteer and one of the founders of Calgary’s early gay institution, Club Carousel, in 1970.

The park was one of six newly named parks in celebration of Calgary’s 125th anniversary. One Voice Chorus’ Jasmine Ing coordinated Lois’ nomination with support from Kevin Allen and the Calgary Gay History Project.

Lois in the Club Carousel space in 2019: Source: Global News

Lois watched the announcement on a livestream of the City Council meeting and was very moved. She said: “I’m really pleased—and not just for me—but for the recognition of the entire community. It’s great we can have a park to sit in and be recognized; it does my heart good. I’m sorry some of the other Club members are not around to share this, particularly Jack.* It’s a community park; it’s not just about me!”

In the nomination package, we wrote:

“For more than 50 years, Lois has been a leader and organizer of Calgary’s LGBTQ2 community. Lois is the last surviving founder of Club Carousel – Calgary’s first gay club, incorporated in March 1970 – despite Calgary Police opposition. She was one of five individuals who dared to sign the club’s incorporation papers when homophobia and discrimination were the norms in Calgary, and few would sign on the dotted line.

Lois at Club Carousel in 1972 with a little pomp!

She also rolled up her sleeves and became the Club’s most dedicated volunteer. Lois was instrumental in organizing expanded Club programming including, camping trips, motorcycle rides, holiday capers, and more. Furthermore, the Club saved people’s lives by creating the City’s first truly safe space. Lois leant a sympathetic ear to LGBTQ2 Calgarians in distress—likely averting many suicides—pushing back against the tide of our community’s despair. The Club became the locus of early gay rights activism in Calgary. Moreover, it seeded sister clubs in Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, and Winnipeg, creating a regional human rights network.

Since 1970, Lois has maintained connections to and volunteered for dozens of LGBTQ2 organizations. Even in her 80s, she shows up to most community events today and is well known to many; she is proud to share our community’s history. Lois was given the 2015 Chinook Fund Hero Award and was the 2017 Calgary Pride Parade Grand Marshall—recognition well deserved.”

The Lois Szabo Commons is under construction and will be completed later this summer at the corner of 9 St and 16 Ave SW in the Beltline.

The Lois Szabo Commons under construction

Congratulations Lois!

*Jack Loenen was another Club Carousel founder and volunteer who is now deceased. In 1976, Jack also helped found Calgary’s oldest extant gay organization, the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Chinook Arch.

{KA}

#BanConversionTherapy: a letter to the @cityofcalgary

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Office of the Councillors
City of Calgary
PO Box 2100, Station M
Calgary, AB  T2P 2M5

May 21, 2020

His Worship Mayor Naheed Nenshi
Calgary City Council and Administration:

We, the undersigned, applaud you for your brave and bold leadership shown on February 3rd, 2020, when you unanimously voted for our city’s administration to craft a bylaw to protect LGBTQ2SIA+ Calgarians from the unscientific, fraudulent, and harmful practices of “conversion therapy”.

On May 13th and 14th, at the SPC meeting on Community and Protective Services, our city’s administration delivered a rigorously tested bylaw that aligns with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and protects vulnerable individuals from the abuses of so-called “sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression change efforts”. This bylaw has been prepared in full consultation with all stakeholders, supported by expert researchers, lawyers, and administrators to create the strongest bylaw possible to protect Calgarians.

Any attempts to amend this bylaw create exemptions and loopholes that are not only unethical, they are dangerous. Any changes made to this bylaw will place people’s lives at risk, effectively nullifying an intended prohibition on this harmful practice.

We are writing you as a coalition of Calgary’s diverse Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit, Intersex, Asexual communities to implore you to stand up for our rights, and for the lives of those most vulnerable to this unethical practice.

The Bylaw doesn’t need to be changed. We don’t need to be changed.

On Monday, May 25th, you will be given the opportunity to fulfill your commitment to end conversion therapy in Calgary. Please approve this bylaw as written – without amendments, without exemptions, and with the full support of your belief in the strength, dignity, and humanity of our LGBTQ2SIA+ communities.

Sincerely,

Pam Rocker, Director
Affirming Connections

Ian Watt, Board President
Apollo, The Western Cup

Kevin Allen, Historian, Author & Research Lead
Calgary Gay History Project

Shawn Loo, Board President
Calgary Men’s Chorus

Paul Meunier, Board President
Calgary Outlink

Shone Thistle, Board President
Calgary Pride

James Demers, Executive Director
Calgary Queer Arts Society

Pam Krause, President & CEO
Centre for Sexuality

Safa Rahman, Member
El-Tawhid Juma Circle

Boban Stojanovic, LGBTQ+ Program Manager
Centre for Newcomers

Kelly Ernst, President
End of the Rainbow Foundation

Kay Orr, Board President
Fellowship of Alberta Bears

Keith Murray, Affirming Coordinator
Hillhurst United Church

Leslie Hill, Executive Director
HIV Community Link

Nina Tron, Board President
Imperial Sovereign Court of the Chinook Arch

Michelle Robinson, Sahtu Dene, Co-chair
MMIWG2S Calgary Committee

Jane Perry, Artistic Director
One Voice Chorus

Jarom Moriyama-Bondar, Co-founder
Pride in Business

Jonathon Lloyd, Board Secretary
Prime Timers Calgary

Donna Thorsten, Manager
Rainbow Elders Calgary

Lindsay Peace, Co-founder
Skipping Stone Foundation

Gordon Sombrowski, Advisory Committee
The Chinook Lesbian and Gay Endowment Fund

Floyd Visser, Executive Director
The SHARP Foundation

A coalition of LGBTQ2SIA+ serving organizations listed in alphabetical order by organization. This letter can also be found on Calgary Pride’s website here: www.calgarypride.ca/banning-conversion-therapy

Pride and Pre-justice (a recap)

Proclaiming your gay pride in Calgary used to be hard. In previous years, homophobia and transphobia were actively practiced in our city. We had both an unsympathetic society and an unjust state. Here is the speediest of recaps.

1980 – Calgary gay activists host a national gay rights conference that ends in a controversial rally and march. Then Mayor Ross Alger and police Chief, Brian Sawyer are decidedly unsupportive.

1981 – Newly elected Calgary Mayor Ralph Klein proclaims he is a mayor for everyone including the gay community, then quickly distances himself from gays due to public outcry.

1987 –  Delegates from many of Calgary’s gay and lesbian organizations come together to form an umbrella organization called Project Pride Calgary. Inspired by the Stonewall Riots, they produce a Pride festival locally to celebrate community. Their first festival in 1988 includes a concert, workshops, a dance, and a family picnic – but no public rally or protest.

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1990 Pride Rally Poster

1990 – the Calgary Lesbian and Gay Political Action Guild (CLAGPAG), one of the Project Pride partners, organizes the first political rally, which they internally described as a media stunt. 140 people muster at the Old Y to pick up lone ranger masks, and then gather at the Boer War Statue in Central Memorial Park.

1991 – CLAGPAG more ambitiously, holds its first Pride Parade. 400 people at City Hall cheer gay Member of Parliament Svend Robinson, who gives an inspiring speech despite gloomy weather and even gloomier protesters, three of whom were arrested. 1991 is also the year Mayor Al Duerr famously proclaims gay pride week in Calgary but then denies future proclamations due to public pressure.

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Svend Robinson, June 16, 1991.  Photo: Luke Shwart

1998 – Vriend vs. Alberta. The Supreme Court decision forces Alberta to include sexual orientation as a prohibited ground for human rights discrimination. Alberta Premier Ralph Klein blusters, and stirs up his socially conservative base, but in the end capitulates.

2001 – Former Conservative Prime Minister, Joe Clark, agrees to be Calgary’s Pride Parade Marshall and solicits scorn from social conservatives everywhere, including the Westboro Baptist Church. “We might have a big crowd preaching against those fags up there Sunday,” Reverend Fred Phelps says from Topeka, Kansas but then fails to show up.

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Joe Clark, June 10, 2001.  Photo: Grant Neufeld

2002- Calgary Police raid Goliath’s Sauna, and charge operators and found-ins under antiquated bawdy house laws, provoking legal challenges from the gay community. (The Crown eventually drops charges in 2005 citing changing community standards)

2005 – Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Canada. The Alberta Government remains officially opposed and threatens to invoke the notwithstanding clause to negate the law in Alberta, but doesn’t.

2006 – Parade marchers tussle with protestors carrying signs “no pride in sodomy.” One marcher is arrested.  Police Chief Jack Beaton says publicly he disapproves of the protestors.

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2009 Pride Board Members, Dallas Barnes & Sam Casselman.  Photo: Kevin Allen

2009 – Pride Calgary moves the parade from June to the September long weekend, and transitions from a grassroots collective to an incorporated non-profit society.

2011 – Mayor Naheed Nenshi is the first Calgary mayor to march in our Pride Parade, and is parade marshall that year, making national headlines.

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Mayor Naheed Nenshi, September 4, 2011 Photo: Todd Korol, The Globe and Mail

2016 – Protestors are hard to find and politicians are seemingly everywhere – it has been an amazing journey.

(KA}

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